Centennial Mural: Day 1 – Gridding the Wall

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Journal: 6.2.14

 

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Photo by Shellece Baptiste

The first day on the wall is always an exciting one. It marks the beginning of the visible transformation process of the mural. Aside from the friends and family members who had to listen to the multiple design concepts and witnessed the developmental design stages, the first day is “the beginning” of the mural for the many members of the public. This particular day was a new experience for me as I was the only member of the team who had previous experience in mural painting.

The morning started off with the fitting together of the 2 x 3 ft. full-scale versions of the design against the wall.

Photo by Anjali Ramgoolam

Photo by Anjali Ramgoolam

Doing this allowed us to get an idea of what the actual design will look like once it has been transferred to the wall. It was a very important exercise as the everyone was able to be objective and observe the inconsistencies (especially in the size and shape of the lettering) in each others attempts once it was all fitted together as a whole.

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Photo by Anjali Ramgoolam

It helped to tune their eyes and minds as they made observations, and noted the areas they needed to pay attention when assessing their efforts and our overall progress.

 

 

 

 

As the lecturers (Lee-Andra Thompson and Vonnie Roudette) prepared the design sections and organized the paints we would need the following day, the team was left to grid the wall. We began drawing the grid once the final decisions were made about the position of the mural in relation to the edges of the wall: 9” from the top, 2 ft. from the vertical edge. The purpose of the grid is to help increase accuracy when scaling up the design i.e. transferring the design from the paper to the wall.

Usually a grid composed of 1 ft. squares is used when transferring the design. However this may vary, just as the scale may vary, depending on the composition of the mural. For this mural we used a grid composed of 6″ x 6″ squares to maintain a consistency in the size of the lettering when transferring the design. Since the mural will be 12 x 6 ft., our grid consisted of 288 6″ squares.

 

I found myself taking the lead and explaining what needed to be done to some of the other team members. We aimed to have the grid completed by noon. The gridding exercise reinforced the importance of precision, accuracy of measurement and observation. It helped in improving our understanding of relationships (each 6″ square is a part of the larger 12 x 6 ft. rectangle) as we had to pay attention to the surrounding points and lines in order to make sure our measurements were accurate.

Photo by Anjali Ramgoolam

Photo by Anjali Ramgoolam

The exercise was also good as we strengthened our trust in each other. We had to rely on each other to get the job done, which meant trusting that each other’s measurements were correct. This also meant that each of us double, triple and quadruple checked our own measurements to reduce the likelihood of errors. Despite a few set backs we managed to get the grid up within two hours, and finished a few minutes after 12:00 pm.

I was able to get to know everyone better (I’m sure they also got to know themselves better) as we all helped to get the task done. They all made concerted efforts to get their designated sections done accurately, while exhibiting new sides of their character. Within a few days (since the mural maintenance activity) their level of observation, concentration and patience improved significantly.

 

Photo by Anjali Ramgoolam

Photo by Anjali Ramgoolam

Based on our observations of the shadow this morning, we have 5 – 6 hours each day during which we can work comfortably before the sun gets unbearable. By 12:00 pm the sun is directly over head and beats down the wall. This is by far the hottest location in which I have done a mural – even hotter than being on the wall Uptown for the Our Living Heritage mural. In order to beat the heat we will be back on the wall tomorrow morning by 6:30 am.

 

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Photo by Anjali Ramgoolam

One Big Bless Up to Anjali’s dad, Mr. Ramgoolam, for the hazard cones and caution tape.

Un Gato Negro

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The Black Cat
by
Edgar Allen Poe
(published 1845)

 

 

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Un Gato Negro de POE, La Plata, Argentina (Photo credit: La Argentina Graffitera: Graffitis, Murales y Stencils del país)

For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not — and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburthen my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified — have tortured — have destroyed me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented little but Horror — to many they will seem less terrible than barroques. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the common-place — some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects.
From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition. My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my companions. I was especially fond of animals, and was indulged by my parents with a great variety of pets. With these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy as when feeding and caressing them. This peculiarity of character grew with my growth, and, in my manhood, I derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure. To those who have cherished an affection for a faithful and sagacious dog, I need hardly be at the trouble of explaining the nature or the intensity of the gratification thus derivable. There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.

I married early, and was happy to find in my wife a disposition not uncongenial with my own. Observing my partiality for domestic pets, she lost no opportunity of procuring those of the most agreeable kind. We had birds, gold-fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat.

This latter was a remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree. In speaking of his intelligence, my wife, who at heart was not a little tinctured with superstition, made frequent allusion to the ancient popular notion, which regarded all black cats as witches in disguise. Not that she was ever serious upon this point — and I mention the matter at all for no better reason than that it happens, just now, to be remembered.

Pluto — this was the cat’s name — was my favorite pet and playmate. I alone fed him, and he attended me wherever I went about the house. It was even with difficulty that I could prevent him from following me through the streets.

Flor de Fuego, La Plata Argentina (Photo credit: La Argentina Graffitera: Graffitis, Murales y Stencils del país)

Flor de Fuego, La Plata Argentina (Photo credit: La Argentina Graffitera: Graffitis, Murales y Stencils del país)

Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several years, during which my general temperament and character — through the instrumentality of the Fiend Intemperance — had (I blush to confess it) experienced a radical alteration for the worse. I grew, day by day, more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others. I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. At length, I even offered her personal violence. My pets, of course, were made to feel the change in my disposition. I not only neglected, but ill-used them. For Pluto, however, I still retained sufficient regard to restrain me from maltreating him, as I made no scruple of maltreating the rabbits, the monkey, or even the dog, when by accident, or through affection, they came in my way. But my disease grew upon me — for what disease is like Alcohol ! — and at length even Pluto, who was now becoming old, and consequently somewhat peevish — even Pluto began to experience the effects of my ill temper…

 

Continue reading —-> http://poestories.com/read/blackcat

In Hindsight

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Journal Entry: 6.1.14

The first week of mural arts elective was focused on developing a local and regional contextual awareness of mural arts in Latin America and the Caribbean. The introductory interactive activities were designed to help us understand the role murals have and can play within societies and communities. We were able to experience the capacity for murals to alter the lives of both the muralist(s) and community members.

I believe the purpose of this week of activities goes beyond generating an awareness of mural arts in the region. I believe the main goal was to facilitate the establishment of a healthy group environment which is necessary for the completion of the S.V.G. Girl Guides Association centennial mural next week. This functional collaborative work environment is the key to success when working on such large-scale projects.

All of us have had bad experiences while working in groups, which was usually the result of poor communication and a lack of trust among group members. This would be the first time many of us will be working as part of a team on a mural project (and possibly the first time working on a collaborative art project). The interactive brainstorm session and subsequent group discussions and activities helped break down the negative preconceptions towards group work. A shift has been made from an individualistic or ego driven approach, towards a collaborative team oriented one…ultimately for the enjoyment of all involved.


 

Amidst all of the activities this week, I managed to design and paint a sign for the Colours of Steel art exhibition – a display of the original artwork featured in the Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Pan on Canvas 2014 calendar. The sign was designed to be hung over head and will be viewed as persons enter BOSVG (Reigate Building).

 

Initial design concept for Colours of Steel sign, c. 5.27.14

Initial design concept for Colours of Steel exhibition sign, c. 5.27.14

 

Color version of Colours of Steel sign, created using GIMP, c. 5.29.14

Color version of Colours of Steel exhibition sign, created using GIMP,    c. 5.29.14

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about Colours of Steel visit the CYAM Facebook page or the exhibition website http://coloursofsteel.weebly.com.

Community Field Work: Rose Place Mural Sign Painting

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Journal: 5.30.14 – 5.31.14

Yesterday we were given a brief introduction to the concept of scale and its importance during the design and transfer stages of a mural project. Understanding the process of scaling and the relationship between the design and its actual size is crucial in executing any large artwork. The success of a mural i.e. the extent to which it effectively communicates its message, is largely influenced by the muralist’s understanding of scale.

The first thing to consider when approaching a mural painting are the dimensions of the wall (width and height). After these measurements have been recorded, the size of the mural must be decided – whether to use a smaller section or the entire wall – for this example our mural will span the entire wall. The next stage consists of designing the composition, which is usually the longest stage in the entire process. This stage encompasses series of other stages which fall under the creative process, including a brainstorm(s) of ideas, research and recording visual references (using observational and developmental drawings and/or photos).

A scaled section of the Centennial Mural design (scale: 3/4" = 6")

A scaled section of the Centennial Mural design (scale: 3/4″ = 6″)

 

Once you have a few design concepts in mind (it’s always good to develop at least three before making the final decision) the next step would be to draw/paint them using on a small-scale. A common scale to use is 1:12 – where 1 square unit on the design represents 12 square units on the wall. It is recommended that the same unit of measurement is used for both the design and actual size of the mural to facilitate the ease of transfer e.g. 1″ = 12″ (1 ft.). The scale of the design may vary depending on the purpose, composition and content of the mural (a more detailed would require a larger scale e.g. 1:4 or 3″ = 12″).

 

 

 


Now we turn our attentions back to the college…

Today the other students had the opportunity to produce full-scale versions (actual size) of selected sections of the mural we will be working on for this elective. This activity was done so that they could improve their understanding of scale, the process of “scaling up” and the relationship between the size of the design and the mural. The sections chosen were drawn on 2 x 3 ft. sheets of white cardboard.

Unfortunately I was unable to share this experience with them. I was out in the field working on another mural project – the Rose Place community mural (on the community bath in Rose Place locally known as Bottom Town). However I was reminded of the importance of scale while I was in town working on the sign for the Rose Place community mural that morning. The sign had been designed and painted the previous week.

I went to the wall that morning with the intentions of finishing the sign: painting the remaining logo and border. As I worked on the logo I realized that it performed an important function within the entire composition of the design. It unified all the other elements by visually balancing the whole. This visual unity is achieved through the placement of both the logo and name – running horizontally beneath the three above it.

As a result the position and size of this logo/name needed to be precise, which also meant that the lettering and graphic needed to be on the same scale as the other logos above it. This required accurate measurements (of the size/thickness of the letters, the graphics, and spacing) and astute observations. I realized that this was another example of the importance of the surrounding environment – in this case the other design elements that make up the sign – and its effect on the perception of the mural/sign and its message.

A task we initially thought would only require a couple of hours, turned out to be approximately 9 hours (a day and a half) long – the border still has to be painted!

Photo by Modupe Olufunmi

Photo by Modupe Olufunmi

The Rose Place community mural is officially the first community mural done by CYAM, and our second public mural in Kingstown (the first being Our Living Heritage c. 2013). Coincidentally both murals are linked by a single street in Kingstown; they are on opposite ends of Bay Street.

I enjoy working on murals. However I feel extremely privileged to have worked on this mural (Rose Place). I was able to witness the power of murals to connect and build community relationships, as we used the art form to show the community their own beauty. Through the act of giving and sharing a heartfelt creation the CYAM team was treated as community members, invited to activities and taken care of while we were at work – they made sure we left each day with our bellies and hearts filled!

 

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One Large Big Big Bless Up to the Rose Place a.k.a Bottom Town Community

 

 

There is a lot more involved during the design process as it pertains to scale. Here are a few links that elaborate a bit more on scale and the mural design process:

http://www.archaeologica.org/Drawing%20to%20Scale.htm

http://www.design-skills.org/scale.html

http://www.cpag.net/guide/2/2_pages/2_1.htm

http://www.murals.com/scaling.html

 

S.V.G Community College Murals

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Healing Walls That Heal Hearts: Part 2

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Journal Entry: 5.29.14

 

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As part of the first week on the Mural Arts: Urban Space Enhancement elective course, we were given the task to complete the restoration process of the College Murals. The process was started earlier in the semester by a team of three CYAM artists; repairs were made on the nature, fantasy murals, as well as one of the two music murals. Yesterday we began repairing both  music murals and the environmental conservation mural.

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Throughout the entire process the question of why the students chose to write on the murals, was at the forefront of my mind. The majority of the graffiti was written with permanent markers, which did not wash off with soap and water. This meant that we had to apply several layers of white paint to conceal the ink, particularly the red and black markers, which bled through once the paint dried. I had to apply four layers to cover some of the writing on the environmental conservation mural.

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The writing consisted mainly of tags/aliases and slangs, many of which originate from the popular dancehall culture (Jamaica) i.e. they were not the original thoughts and expressions of these Vincentian youths. IMG-20140528-00048In my opinion this is a  sign of misplaced identity, as they no longer identify with the ideas and expressions of their own island people. Moreover their actions highlight the disconnection within themselves. Based on my observations of the students we were fortunate to meet with earlier in the semester, many of them are not consciously aware of their motives (aside from it being the result of boredom).

 

The deeper reason behind their actions is the same as that of the students who claimed the space four years ago. The graffiti and the students’ behavior is a product of the college environment: which is not visually stimulating or designed to foster a sense of belonging to the space (these characteristics have only become more defined since the structural re-design of the Villa campus).The issue of the disconnection between the students and the college space is one which can be addressed through another collaborative college mural. The College Murals are a testament to the power of the arts to uplift negative environments, thus changing the perception and responses of those who encounter them.

This will ensure that the murals are kept graffiti free and continue to inspire future students, while building a more creative, inclusive atmosphere for them to develop. It will require the support of all members of SVGCC (lecturers, students and administration) to educate new members on the story behind the college murals – through understanding comes connection and belonging.

Nature mural, SVGCC (Villa Campus) c. 2010 (muralists: Year 1 SVGCC A-Level Art and Design Students) Photo by Camille Aragon

Nature mural, SVGCC (Villa Campus) c. 2010 (muralists: Year 1 SVGCC A-Level Art and Design Students)
Photo by Camille Aragon

 


 

Continue reading

Healing Walls That Heal Hearts: Part 1

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Journal Entry: 5.28.14

Today we continued the restoration of the murals on the Villa campus of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College. A team of eight first year FADCC students headed out to work this afternoon after our morning session. We were equipped with the basics – the three primary colors (red, blue and yellow), white paint, soap, sponges/rags, an assortment of brushes and palettes, and buckets of water. We would be working on three of the six College Murals over the next two days: the environmental conservation mural and the two music themed murals.
   

The environmental conservation mural c. 2011

The process was started earlier in the semester one Sunday in February by three industrious CYAMese – Sean Roache, Vonnie Roudette and myself. Our efforts were in response to the recent accumulation of graffiti on and around the murals directly opposite the Art Room. These murals were originally painted by the first year GSCE A-Level Art and Design students in March 2010 and July 2011. The Art and Design program was given the responsibility of transforming this particular area on campus as a means of addressing the issue of student graffiti.

 

Nature themed mural                    Music mural c. 2010

Fantasy MuralFirst year A-Level Art & Design students at work on the Nature, Music and Fantasy murals, c. 2010

The first of these murals – nature, music and fantasy themed murals – were painted in March 2010 by a team of fourteen first year students under the tutelage of their lecturer Vonnie Roudette. The Environmental Conservation Mural was painted by an even larger team in July 2011:

The first year A-Level Art and Design students;
Members of the graduating Art and Design class of that year;
Ken and Kimmy (Japanese volunteers and family of the Art Room);
Aiko and Jaya (family of the Art Room, who also painted the Breadfruit Tree Mural at the Dubois Primary School that summer)

The latest addition was the second music themed mural completed in 2011 by Sean Roache. This mural was painted in response to the removal of the icon Rastaman from the first music themed mural. It depicts a peaceful island youth breezin’ with the sun, sand and his music. The most interesting aspect of both music murals lie in their design. Both murals were designed to be interactive as students are allowed to leave their tags within designated areas – a large double quaver and a thought bubble. The interactive nature of these murals allows for deeper connections to be formed between the students, the murals and by extension the college as they are given the freedom to leave their mark.

A job we thought would be pretty straight forward – wash off as much of the graffiti (done with markers) as possible; paint the affected areas in white; apply required colors over the white base – turned out to be an extremely labor intensive process. The three of us spent over eight hours that Sunday healing the murals. We were like surgeons in the ER operating on a patient in critical condition, as we tried to treat severe wounds without causing further damage. The entire process consisted of many experiments and analysis of the color and technique used to apply the paint in order to get the murals back to their original state. The most taxing part was trying to mix the original color used for the dragon’s scales in the fantasy mural…in the end the entire dragon’s head had to be re-painted as we couldn’t match the original color (big ups to Ms. R on performing that flawless face lift). We successfully completed the repairs on three of the five murals that day: the nature, fantasy and music mural (2011).

As part of the mural maintenance/repair project, some of the tags were traced back to the students responsible for the graffiti (many of them were aliases by which the students were known) with the help of the first year FADCC students. The students responsible for the graffiti were then brought in for a meeting with the FADCC students later in the semester. This encounter was attempt to share the story of the College Murals and their subsequent repair, while enabling both groups to come to a deeper understanding of each other.

Today’s activity was a continuation of this revitalization process, as the majority of the first year FADCC students had their first practical experience in the art of mural painting.

Danika and Otilia repairing the first half of the Environmental Conservation mural

Danika and Otilia repairing the first half of the Environmental Conservation mural

 

Francilka, Anjali, Shellece, Erron and Shantel repairing the Music murals

Francilka, Anjali, Shellece, Erron and Shantel repairing the Music murals